Q.1. Describe how the poverty line is estimated in India.
- The poverty line is estimated based on consumption levels in India. A person has basic needs which include the minimum level of food, clothing, educational and medical needs; etc.
- These minimum consumptions are then calculated in Rupees and total becomes the minimum income required to fulfil basic needs.
- A person is considered poor if their income level falls below the minimum level necessary to fulfil basic needs.
Q.2. Do you think that the present methodology of poverty estimation is appropriate?
- The present methodology of poverty estimation takes into account a minimum subsistence level of living rather than a reasonable level of living.
- A person is considered poor if his or her income or consumption level falls below a given minimum level necessary to fulfil basic needs.
- While ensuring the minimum necessary in terms of income is indeed essential for India to bring a large section of its population out of the clutches of poverty, the government must also focus its attention upon the broader element of human poverty.
- A future state may be achieved wherein everybody is able to feed himself or herself.
- However, in the continuing presence of factors like illiteracy, lack of job opportunities, lack of access to proper healthcare and sanitation, caste and gender discrimination, etc., such a state cannot be called a poverty-free state.
Q.3. Describe poverty trends in India since 1973.
- There has been a substantial decline in the poverty ratios in India from about 55 per cent in 1973 to 36 per cent in 1993.
- The proportion of people below the poverty line further came down to about 26 per cent in 2000.
- Although the percentage of people living in poverty declined from 1973 to 1993, the number of poor remained stable at around 320 million for a fairly long period.
- However, as per the latest estimates, the number of poor has shown a significant decline to about 260 million.
Rural and Urban Poor
- The poverty trends also indicate that the problem of poverty is a much bigger menace in rural areas than it is in urban areas.
- As the greater part of the Indian population resides in the villages, the greater number of the poor also resides in the villages.
- Looked at from the point of view of the various social and economic groups in the country, the scheduled tribes, the scheduled castes, the rural agricultural labourers and the urban casual labourers turn out to be the groups most vulnerable to poverty.
- Though the average for people below the poverty line for all groups in India is 26, the averages of these groups are higher than the average Indian poverty ratio.
- The poverty trends also show that though there has been a decline in poverty in every state from the early seventies, the success rate of reducing poverty has varied from state to state.
- In 20 states and union territories, the poverty ratio is less than the national average of 26. In others, the poverty ratios are higher than the national average. Among these, Orrisa and Bihar continue to be the two poorest states with poverty ratios of 47 and 43 per cent respectively.
- On the other hand, states like Kerala, Gujarat, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir have shown a significant decline in poverty.
Q.4. Discuss the major reasons for poverty in India.
Major reasons for poverty in India:
(a) Colonial Rule
- India went through a long phase of low economic development under the British colonial administration.
- The policies of the colonial government ruined traditional handicrafts and discouraged the development of industries like textiles.
(b) Low economic growth and high population growth
The Indian administration’s failure on the two fronts − promotion of economic growth and population control perpetuated the cycle of poverty.
(c) Rural Poverty
- The effects of agricultural and rural development were limited to only certain parts of the country. As a result, while some parts of the country showed great progress in the rural sector, others continued in the shadow of poverty.
- The presence of huge income inequalities is a major reason for the high poverty rates in rural areas.
- The government’s failure to properly implement major policy initiatives to tackle the issue of income inequalities has contributed to the continuance of poverty in villages.
(d) Urban Poverty
- The jobs created by the industrial sector have not been enough to absorb all the job seekers. Unable to find proper jobs in cities, many people start working as rickshaw pullers, vendors, construction workers, domestic servants, etc.
- With irregular small incomes, these people cannot afford expensive housing. As a consequence, they start living in slums. Thus, poverty (a largely rural phenomenon sometime back) has become a dominant feature of urban India as well.
(e) Socio-Cultural Factors
- Various socio-cultural factors like caste and gender discrimination and social exclusion have contributed to the wider realm of human poverty.
Q.5. Identify the social and economic groups which are most vulnerable to poverty in India.
The social groups vulnerable to poverty are:
- Scheduled castes households
- Scheduled tribes households
The economic groups vulnerable to poverty are:
- Rural agricultural labour households
- Urban casual labour households
Q.6. Give an account of interstate disparities in poverty in India.
- There is a difference in the proportion of poor people in the States.
- Estimates show that the average India HCR was 21.9% in 2011-12 but States like Bihar and Orissa are the two poorest states with poverty ratios of 33.7 and 37.6% respectively.
- In comparison, there has been a significant decline in poverty in Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and West Bengal.
- These States have used agricultural growth and Human Capital growth to reduce poverty.
Q.7. Describe global poverty trends.
- The proportion of people in developing countries living in extreme economic poverty has fallen from 43% in 1990 to 22% in 2008.
- There are disparities in poverty among the regions around the World. The number of the poor in China has come down from 85% in 1981 to 6% in 2011.
- In Sub-Saharan Africa, poverty declined from 51% in 1981 to 47% in 2008.
- In Latin America, the ratio of poverty has declined from 11% in 1981 to 6.4 per cent in 2008.
Q.8. Describe the current government strategy of poverty alleviation.
Ans. The removal of poverty is one of the major objectives of the Indian developmental strategy.
The current government strategy of poverty alleviation is based on two planks:
- Promotion of Economic Growth.
- Targeted Anti-poverty Programmes.
Some of the targeted anti-poverty programmes undertaken by the government are:
(а) Prime Minister’s Rozgar Yojana (PMRY): This programme was started in 1993. It aims at creating self-employment opportunities for educated unemployed youth in rural areas and small towns.
(b) Pradhan Mantri Gramodaya Yojana (PMGY): This programme was launched in 2000. It aims at creating and improving basic services like primary health, primary education, rural shelter, rural drinking water and rural electrification.
(c) Rural Employment Generation Programme (REGP): This programme was launched in 1995. It aims at creating self-employment opportunities in rural areas and urban towns.
(d) Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA): This act was passed in September 2005. The act provides 100 days of assured employment every year to every rural household in 200 districts. Later, the scheme would be extended to 600 districts. One-third of the proposed jobs have been reserved for women.
Q.9. Answer the following questions briefly
(a) What do you understand by human poverty?
(b) Who are the poorest of the poor?
(c) What are the main features of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005?
- Human poverty is a concept that goes beyond the limited view of poverty as a lack of income.
- It refers to the denial of political, social and economic opportunities to an individual to maintain a “reasonable” standard of living.
- Illiteracy, lack of job opportunities, lack of access to proper healthcare and sanitation, caste and gender discrimination, etc., are all components of human poverty.
- Women, female infants and older people are the poorest of the poor. Within a low-income family, such individuals suffer more than others.
- They are systematically denied equal access to the resources available to the family.
(c) Main features of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005:
- The Act assures 100 days of employment every year to every household.
- Initially covering 200 districts, the Act would be extended later on to cover 600 districts.
- One-third of the jobs are reserved for women.